CLAIM

Russia has blackmail material on Utah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz, which is why he will not seek re-election.

UNPROVEN

RATING

UNPROVEN

ORIGIN

On 19 April 2017, PalmerReport.com posted a story reporting the claim that the Federal Bureau of Investigations has information that the Kremlin has “kompromat,” or compromising information, that could be used for blackmail, on Utah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz.

The article cites only a tweet by former British Parliament member Louise Mensch, who cites unnamed “sources”:

For months, onlookers have wondered why House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz has done his best to protect Donald Trump from his Russian collusion scandal. Has it been merely partisan hackery, or has Chaffetz had a more specific reason? According to an intel community source, the FBI has learned that Russia has “kompromat” blackmail material on Chaffetz and has been using it to keep him in line with regard to Trump’s Russia scandal.

The intel source comes by way of political pundit Louise Mensch, whose inside sources have a history of being correct about FISA warrants and other matters. Here’s how she phrases it: “Sources say there is kompromat on Jason Chaffetzl that this is why he turned and that FBI know it” (link). She does not go on to reveal what that blackmail material is, but the key phrase here is that “he turned.”

Mensch’s tweet got a lot of attention, and was even retweeted by a spokeswoman for the Democratic Party:


The FBI as standard practice does not comment on ongoing investigations, except under extremely unusual circumstances. True to form, they declined to comment when we asked them to verify whether they were aware of “kompromat” on Chaffetz.

Chaffetz, who chairs the House Oversight Committee, posted a statement on his official Facebook page on 19 April 2017, announcing his decision not to seek reelection. Chaffetz cited personal reasons for declining to run and said he may campaign again in the future, but would not do so in 2018.

The Washington Post speculated he may be preparing for a gubernatorial run, citing comments he made in 2016 in which he showed strong interest in that role. On 3 January 2016, Chaffetz telegraphed such a move to the Deseret News when he said:

I’m not going to be here [in Washington, D.C.] forever. I would take a serious, serious look at running for governor. I want to go as hard and fast as I can in the House and then go home.

We found no proof that the Russians have compromising information on Chaffetz, as the claim is entirely based on hearsay without any supporting evidence offered. Congress is currently on recess and we have not yet heard back from Chaffetz’ spokesperson.

Sources:

Palmer, Bill. “Intel Source: FBI Discovers Kremlin Is Blackmailing Jason Chaffetz Over Donald Trump and Russia.”
  PalmerReport.com. 19 April 2017.

Viebeck, Elise. “Jason Chaffetz Announces He Won’t Run for Office in 2018.”
  The Washington Post. 19 April 2017.

Roche, Lisa Riley. “Rep. Jason Chaffetz Eyeing a New Title — Governor.”
  Deseret News. 3 January 2016.